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lecture  I

The development of the journey from birth to maturity

University of Rome Tor Vergata and IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia, Rome, Italy

Healthy adult locomotion is characterized by kinematic and dynamic invariants as well as a modular structure of neuromuscular control. When do these characteristics emerge during a child's normal development? What is the role of spinal and supraspinal control, sensory afferents or biomechanics in locomotor development? What are the effects of neuromotor development disorders, such as those of cerebral palsy? I will address these issues by reviewing the most recent findings.


Born in Torino, 24 December 1952​

Full Professor of Physiology at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the University of Rome Tor Vergata. Graduated with honors in Medicine and Surgery (1976), specialized in Neurology (1980) at the University of Turin, postdoc at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, researcher at the National Research Council in Milan, then extraordinary professor of Physiology at the University of Cagliari (in 1994). He has been in Tor Vergata since 1997, where he directed the Space Biomedicine Center (from 1999 to 2021). Since 1994 he has also directed the Neuromotor Physiology Laboratory of the IRCCS Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome. For his research in the field of movement neurophysiology he was nominated a member of the Academia Europaea (in 2012), received the international Herlitzka Prize (2015) and was awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Leuven (2020). .

Research Activities 
Pathophysiology of movement and sensorimotor coordination. Development of innovative neuromotor rehabilitation protocols using virtual reality and robotics. Applications to neuromotor pathology in children and adults.

2008 Patent in "Gait Simulator with Adjustable Leg Segment Lengths and Rotation Axes".
Patents of 2007 in "Devices for the mechanical stimulation of the sole of the foot in the rehabilitation of gait  and means of detection and processing of the signals deriving from their use" and "Device for locomotion and rehabilitation in variable conditions of simulated microgravity ".

keynote       lecture iI

Interaction between posture and conscious perception

Temple University, Philadelphia, USA

After receiving a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech, Dr. Wright spent 4 years as an officer in the USAF doing satellite engineering and operations. He then redirected his interests from hardware-in-space to humans-in-space in graduate school. His masters research (Experimental Psychology, Northeastern University) and Ph.D. research (Cognitive Neuroscience, Brandeis University) focused on human perception of spatial orientation with support from NASA and the DoD. During his post-doctoral training in Munich, Germany and at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, OR, he began working with various patient populations, including stroke, Parkinson's disease, vestibular loss, and neuropathy. He has investigated motor control, gait and balance, and perceptuo-motor disorders in both healthy and neurologically impaired individuals.

Dr. Wright's research goals at Temple are to continue studying the central nervous system in individuals with impairment to motor control, balance, and gait, with the intention of applying knowledge about sensorimotor integration to shaping rehabilitation therapy. He is currently funded by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (US Army Rapid Innovation Fund) to validate a device his team designed for assessing postural deficits in individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) using virtual environments (VE) to manipulate visual input. He is also continuing research that has been funded by the Veterans Administration to investigate the neuromuscular origins of hypertonia in Parkinson's Disease using postural control and functional MRI prodecures.

keynote         lecture iII

Exploring the pathophysiology of human motor control: should we test simple circuits or explore complex network interactions?

John Rothwell - University of London, UK

Classical clinical neurophysiology tests either simple circuits or observes complex patterns of EMG and EEG activity. Both can be diagnostically useful but in different ways. Simple reflexes can give insights into conditions with a single cause. In Tullio phenomenon, auditory stimuli evoke vertigo and dizziness. Reflex testing shows that it is associated with a hypersensitive vestibular evoked myogenic potential. This is a useful clue to understanding the cause (hypersensitivity to sound caused  by dehiscence of the superior semicircular canal). But most conditions can have multiple causes which trigger a dynamically balanced and adaptable motor system to fall into an abnormal but stable state. An example is dystonia, which may be due to interactions between cerebellar, basal ganglia and motor cortex circuits that can influence motor states as far away as the spinal cord. These conditions may tell us not only about pathology, but also give insights into how interactions between circuits normally maintain the motor system in stable equilibrium

Emeritus Professor of Human Neurophysiology

University College London

UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


John Rothwell is Professor of Human Neurophysiology at UCL. He is one of the rare basic neuroscientists who has successfully bridged the divide into clinical research. For many years he was the head of Prof CD Marsden’s electrophysiological research effort in the MRC Human Movement and Balance Unit in Queen Square, and he became Acting Director of that Unit on David’s premature death in 1998. He is presently Professor of Human Neurophysiology at University College London and Head of the Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders at the Institute of Neurology. He has made significant contributions to medical science in two areas: the development of non-invasive neurophysiological methods to investigate the pathophysiology of patients with movement disorders, and advances in techniques for transcranial stimulation of the human brain. The former led to the recognition of clear physiological abnormalities in a range of disorders of movement that were previously regarded by many as psychological in origin, such as Tourette’s syndrome, writers’ cramp and blepharospasm. They also led to a clear classification of myoclonic jerks in a variety of conditions according to their site of origin in the central nervous system. His work on the basic mechanisms of transcranial stimulation has provided the base for the present enormous expansion of that technique as a potential therapeutic tool in treatment of depression and an investigative method in cognitive neuroscience.

keynote         lecture IV

Neural networks for motor coordination

University of Jerusalem, Israel

In human and non-human primates, motor timing and coordination are considered to be dictated by cerebellar control of motor cortical activity relayed through the cerebellar-thalamo-cortical (CTC) system. This supposition draws on studies that have documented motor impairments in cerebellar patients and in animal models. However, we know very little about the way cerebellar information, integrated by cortical circuitry, affects motor cortical commands. We addressed this question by probing the CTC system in a primate model. We found that a single pulse stimulation of the CTC pathway efficiently activates cells throughout the primary motor (M1) and premotor cortex (PM). Simultaneous recording of thalamocortical activity revealed that around movement onset, thalamic cells were positively correlated with M1 activity but negatively correlated with the PM activity. The differences in the correlation contrasted with the average neural responses, which were similar in all three areas. Next, we combined electrical and pharmacological perturbations and found that CTC input to the motor cortex induces a strong feed-forward inhibition which may act to silence competing inputs and enhance the saliency of CTC signals in an area-dependent manner. Finally, we found that blocking the CTC input leads to substantial movements impairments which are accompanied by a local and global desynchronization of motor cortical activity, further emphasizing the importance of CTC input in temporally organizing activity of neurons in the motor cortex and subsequently motor behavior. We suggest that the excitation-inhibition interplay triggered by CTC input amplifies the net impact of this pathway. Subsequently this pathway efficiently coordinates activity of neuronal populations in the motor cortex and supports the transition from motor preparation to execution.

Ph.D. 1995, Hebrew Univ.
Post-doctoral Fellow U. of Washington, Seattle, USA 1995
Lect. 2000, Hebrew Univ.
Professor at Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences ​
Laboratory Techniques
Extracellular recording of spinal and cortical activity from behaving animals. 
EMG recordings. Simultaneous recording from multiple neuronal sites.
Functional morphology via neural stimulation.
In our lab we are studying the way motor command is translated into a detailed pattern of muscle activation. Our working hypothesis is that the cortex does not specifically control individual muscles; rather, it influences the activity of several functionally related groups of muscles. In contrast, spinal neurons (also involved in reflex circuits) integrate all the relevant dynamic parameters arriving from multiple sources (descending and peripheral inputs) and generate the detailed activation of muscles.

keynot      lecture V

Human-Robot Collaboration for Biomechanical Risk Reduction in the Industrial 4.0 Era

Arash Ajoudani - Italian Institute of Technology, Genoa, Italy

To create socio-physically interactive robots, learning- and model-based techniques must come together for the estimation of human physical and cognitive states in real-time. Subsequently, robot behaviors can be adapted to adjust these states, e.g., by changing the task trajectories, robot execution speed, impedance, and similar. This talk will first present our approach in modeling of human socio-physical states in real-time. Next, the control of collaborative robots and other assistive systems will be presented by taking human states into consideration.

Arash Ajoudani is the director of the Human-Robot Interfaces and Interaction (HRI²) laboratory at IIT. He also coordinates the Robotics for Manufacturing (R4M) lab of the Leonardo labs, and is a principal investigator of the IIT-Intellimech JOiiNT lab. He received his PhD degree in Robotics and Automation from University of Pisa and IIT in 2014. 

He is a recipient of the European Research Council (ERC) starting grant 2019 (Ergo-Lean), the coordinator of the Horizon-2020 project SOPHIA, the co-coordinator of the Horizon-2020 project CONCERT, and a principal investigator of the HORIZON-MSCA project RAICAM.  He is a recipient of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) Early Career Award 2021, and winner of the Amazon Research Awards 2019, of the Solution Award 2019 (MECSPE2019), of the KUKA Innovation Award 2018, of the WeRob best poster award 2018, and of the best student paper award at ROBIO 2013. His PhD thesis was a finalist for the Georges Giralt PhD award 2015 - best European PhD thesis in robotics. He was also a finalist for the best paper award on mobile manipulation at IROS 2022, the best paper award at Humanoids 2022 (oral category), the Solution Award 2020 (MECSPE2020), the best conference paper award at Humanoids 2018, the best interactive paper award at Humanoids 2016, the best oral presentation award at Automatica (SIDRA) 2014, and for the best manipulation paper award at ICRA 2012. 

He is the author of the book "Transferring Human Impedance Regulation Skills to Robots" in the Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics (STAR), and several publications in journals, international conferences, and book chapters. He is currently serving as an elected IEEE RAS AdCom member (2022-2024), and as chair and representative of the IEEE-RAS Young Professionals Committee, and as a Senior Editor of the International Journal of Robotics Research (IJRR). He has been serving as a member of scientific advisory committee and as an associate editor for several international journals and conferences such as IEEE RAL, ICRA, IROS, ICORR, etc. He is a scholar of the European Lab for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS). His main research interests are in physical human-robot interaction, mobile manipulation, robust and adaptive control, assistive robotics, and tele-robotics.

keynote         lecture VI

21st century rehabilitation

University of Campania, Caserta, Italy

 October 29, 2015 onwards Associate Professor of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine performing Clinical, Research and Teaching Activities at the Department of Mental and Physical Health and Preventive Medicine, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy in the field of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine.

Nov. 20, 2014 onwards Delegate of the University Rector for Communication and Third Mission at the Second University of Naples, Italy

November 1, 2007, October 28, 2015 Assistant Professor of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine performing Research and Teaching Activities at the Department of Mental and Physical Health and Preventive Medicine, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy

November 1, 2007 onwards Level I Medical Director in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine performing Clinical and Post-surgical and Elderly Rehabilitation Activities at the Department of General and Special Surgery of the Hospital of the Second University of Naples in the field of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine

keynote           lecture ViI

The role of joint and tissue friction in the balance
mechanical energy of human locomotion

University of Milan, Italy

Distinguished Professor of Physiology (Chiamata per Chiara Fama, CUN 2006, to succeed retiring Giovanni Cavagna, Emeritus Professor of Physiology), Full Professor of Physiology at the Department of Physiopathology and Transplantation, Faculty of Medicine, University of Milano, Italy. Global Chair (Research) at the University of Bath, 2020-2021. MIUR ASN Commission Reviewer for Full and Associate Professorship in Physiology, 2018-2021. Honorary Research Professor at Accademia dei Lincei, 'Beniamino Segre Centre', 2015-2018. Honorary Professor of Computer Science in Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark, 2012-2016.  Doctor in Medicine (M.D.) and Specialist in Biostatistics at the University of Milan, Italy. IgNobel Prize for Physics 2013, Sounders Theatre, Harvard, US.  Teaching experience: Milan University: Chair of Human Physiology, Member of PhD School in Translational Medicine, ‘Professore a Contratto' (University of Milan, and Udine: Biostatistics and Biomathematics), Course Leader (Manchester Metropolitan University: Biomechanical Measurements Techniques, Neuromuscular Control MSc, Distance Learning Biomechanics BSc) and Path Leader (Biomechanics). Other details at:   Internationally based scientific activity: research fellow at C.N.R. Milan, Italy; C.N.R.-N.A.T.O. Research Grant at Geneva University with Prof. P. E. di Prampero; EU Research Grant - Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship Association at Leeds University with Prof. R. McN. Alexander; Professor of Biomechanics, Manchester Metropolitan University 1999-2005. 

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